First Drive: 2019 Ram 1500

The 2019 Ram 1500 is the first major remake of the popular pickup since 2009 and one of the big chapters in this edition of its story is The Silence of the Rams.

This new truck is so quiet, you’d be hard-pressed to find a luxury SUV or sedan for that matter that is quieter – or smoother – on the highway. No wind noise. No road noise. No need to shout or raise your voice to be heard. Even whispered conversations are easily heard as we hit the roads around this Arizona playground.

Ram has brought writers from all over North America to The Boulders resort, headquarters for the launch of the new truck. Everyone I spoke with was impressed by the quietness.

While silence is golden, Ram has a long list of new qualities that make it stand out. It’s lighter, longer and wider than its predecessor. Its cab is roomier and more comfortable. It’s more efficient, tougher, pulls more, hauls more and you can have it with all the technology you’d want in a high-end sedan. It looks good too.

“This is a big one for us,” says FCA Canada’s senior manager of product strategy Mike Szymkiewicz. “I’ve been working on this truck with the team for more than four years.”

It’s important they get it right. Trucks are the second-largest segment in Canada after compact cars and Ram accounted for 39% if FCA sales in 2017.

Jim Morrison, head of Ram brand North America, says the Ram 1500 has the highest customer loyalty rating among pickups.

The trucks we’re driving are pre-production vehicles powered by the legendary 5.7L HEMI V8. Additional engine choices include 3.6L Pentastar V6, 3.6L eTorque mild hybrid and 5.7L eTorque HEMI V8 mild Hybrid. Shiftwork in all cases is handled by an eight-speed automatic transmission. A diesel is also on the way.

The truck will be available in seven models, down from the previous 11, says Szymkiewicz, adding that 99% of trucks sold in Canada are 4×4 and 75% of sales are crew cabs. For the first time there’s a definite differentiation between models across six price classes.

2019 Ram 1500
2019 Ram 1500

The changes in the truck’s exterior don’t change the fact that this is a Ram. While the cross-hair grille is gone the Ram, name is prominent. The profile’s longer, but the proportions don’t seem out of place. Altogether, it’s a pleasant design from the new adaptive front headlight system to the new aluminum tailgate.

On the inside, the seats are terrific in all positions and the legroom in back is sufficient that four large people can fit in this cab in comfort. If you need cargo space, the rear seat flips up to give a perfectly flat load floor with covered, lockable storage boxes set into the floor. Upholstery and dash covering is all first class.

Visibility from the driver’s chair is excellent and I’ve got every electronic back-seat driver there is to tell me to watch out!

Gauges are easy to read, the driver information screen in the IP between speedometer and tachometer is easy to read and will tell me anything I want to know about the truck’s operation. And, wonder of wonders, the centre stack has knobs for operating radio and HVAC. If the truck has the 12-inch display screen, the HVAC knobs disappear. I also note that the automatic transmission’s shift dial is smaller and clustered with the 4WD controls.

We cover an appreciable distance of twists and turns, hills and valleys with the ultimate destination of an off-road “headquarters” set up on a desert plateau. I find the steering is a little light, but it’s responsive. Once off the pavement the Ram’s manners are a bit less refined although its still quiet (no creaks, rattles or bangs), but head-toss is an issue for passengers.

That’s borne out when we take to the off-road course in the 2019 Rebel version of the 1500. It’s a rocky, pebbly, loose little trail that leads us down into a run along a dry wash of loose, deep sand. It behaves much like snow except it doesn’t clog tire treads and the truck handles it beautifully.

The off-road section mastered, it was time to head back to The Boulders.

Key elements to making this the quietest Ram ever include new electronically controlled side-frame mounted active tuned-mass modules which work in harmony with an interior active noise cancellation system on HEMI models to reduce ambient sounds down to a lo 66.6 db.

New independent front suspension components combine lightweight composite upper control arms, aluminum lower control arms and retuned geometry for better responsiveness and handling. The front stabilizer bar is replaced behind the front tires, improving roll stiffness by 20%. A new front coil-over shock design is standard on all 1500s.

The third-generation rear five-link coil suspension provides better articulation than leaf springs.

Ram does more than sneak down the road, though. It will pull 5,785 kg (12,750 lbs) or haul 1,043 kg (2,300 lbs)—without making a noise about it.

Safety gear is equal to high-end sedans. You can have adaptive cruise control with stop, go and hold; adaptive headlight system, advanced brake assist, blind spot monitor with cross traffic detection, brake assist, brake-throttle override, EBD, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, ParkSense parallel/perpendicular parking assist, surround view camera and more.

You can make the Ram work hard, play hard and then go all high class with a trip to the theatre. Nice!

2019 Ram 1500
Trim levels: Tradesman, Big Horn, Sport, Rebel, Laramie, Longhorn, Limited
Price before taxes: $42,095.00 – $74,195.00.
Freight: $1,895.00
Configuration: front engine, 4WD
Available engines: 3.6L Pentastar V6 with eTorque V6, 5.7L HEMI V-8, 5.7L HEMI eTorque.
Available transmissions: 8-spd. Automatic
Power/torque: V6: 305hp/269 lb. ft., V8 HEMI: 395/410, V8 HEMI with eTorque: 395/410.
Fuel economy ratings: TBD
Warranties: 3 years/36,000 km (basic), 5 years/100,000 km (powertrain)
Competitors: Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra

Related links:
RAM Canada

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